Friday, August 14, 2015

The generosity of two men

I have very fond memories of my early years in our hobby. I had the pleasure of meeting several modelers who became mentors to me, not just because they passed on good advice and modeling techniques, but also — and perhaps more importantly — because they were generous. I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to know them.

One of those modelers who comes to mind is Alan Royer. I met him when I joined IPMS Ocala way back in the 1980s. He was an incredibly talented truck modeler, doing conversions and scratchbuilt trailers that were as perfectly built as they were unfamiliar to the teenager I was at the time. He invited me to his home to see his workshop and models, and I was impressed by all of the modeling supplies he had. In addition to his talent, I remember his generosity. Before I left he gave me some Evergreen sheet plastic so that I could begin to learn how to construct and assemble my own parts. It was a small gesture, but it inspired me when I was most impressionable.

Fast-forward 35 years.

Earlier this summer the hobby lost a good man, Walt Champlin, who was a member of IPMS Columbus Eddie Rickenbacker. I didn’t know him very well, making his acquaintance only through mutual friends who are members of the club, but I did have the pleasure of spending an evening at his home several years ago when I was in town for the club’s annual contest, Blizzard (which is one of the best local/regional contests I’ve attended).

I will remember Walt for his generosity as well. He had been a modeler for a long time. His man cave was awesome, with a collection of kits and aftermarket that overlapped my interests. When I finished studying Wolfpack’s A-7 resin folding wings, Walt offered them to me. “You don’t owe me anything. Just build them,” he said, remarking that he didn’t want me to simply put them in my stash and forget about them. His passing is a reminder to me that they’re still in my stash. I need to commit to using them on an A-7 build before the year is out.

I write about these two men in part because I’m a sentimental old fool, but also as a reminder in an age of internet anonymity and animosity to be kind, to encourage new modelers. It doesn’t have to be something with monetary value like sheet plastic or an aftermarket accessory, just something that will inspire them in the future.

P.S. I lost track of Alan Royer shortly after I graduated from high school. If anyone knows his whereabouts, I'd love to hear from you.

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